On entering the Present Company's playing space, the spectator had already entered Laine Satterfield'sCave of Dreams. There was a white sheet against the back wall with dream-like images projected upon it, a haunting underscore of echoing voices, and a young woman asleep in the middle of the stage. The characters and themes of the play are based on archetypes, shaman myths, age-old symbols, various mythological creatures, and dream imagery.
The premise of the play is that the young woman, named Validity (Tara Orr), wakes and is enticed into the cave of dreams by Cadman (Chris McGill), the keeper of the keys to the cave. After having entered, she is dismembered by the cave slaves (Randi Glass, Errickson Wilcox, David Dial, and Alex Ginsberg) in an initiation ritual and goes on a journey to reach the center of the cave before she can exit.
As a director, Ms. Satterfield was committed to her dreamworld vision and was successful in communicating that world. It helped that she is a talented choreographer who can set up some stunning stage pictures. For instance, Validity walked over a mountain, using the other actors as the rocks she climbed. She also had some exciting slow-motion movements amongst some fast, angular ones. However, some of Ms. Satterfield's themes could have used a little more developing. For instance, Validity's relationships with the cave slaves, as a whole, were on the thin side. We get the only specific, which was the most interesting, relationship in the play when Validity gets a lover (Mr. Wilcox.) Also, the cast tended to get so caught up with the poetry of the words that the action of the play was sometimes lost.
The real star of the evening was the production design team (Victor Morales, Sibylle Burkhardt, Will Siss, Dan Jagendorf, Amy Laughlin, Samantha Porter, Lucio Zago, JP Pitoc & Company), who created a dreamlike reality, thus achieving the evening's desired effect. All the action was underscored by the hypnotic images and the haunting score of music and voices that seemed to ripple through the stage as if in an actual dream.
Cave of Dreams is not everyone's cup of camomile, but with a running time of just over an hour it didn't over-stay its welcome. The evening was dense and difficult, but for those willing to go on the journey with its heroine it offered much beauty and some remarkable images that don't populate a stage too often.
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Copyright 1999 Andrés J. Wrath